NEWLY-elected Nationals deputy leader Barnaby Joyce has been appointed the federal Agriculture Minister in the Coalition Cabinet, surprising few but bitterly disappointing former shadow Agriculture Minister John Cobb.
The former Senator from Queensland has been on a roll: easily winning independent Tony Windsor's old seat of New England in NSW following Mr Windsor's retirement, taking on the deputy leadership when NT Senator Nigel Scullion chose not to contest (despite Mr Cobb also nominating) and now gaining a pivotal portfolio in the new government.
Stakeholders took to Twitter to endorse Mr Joyce's appointment, noting his rural background and parliamentary experience.
"Pleased to see @Barnaby_Joyce receive responsibility for the very important agriculture portfolio." @KatrinaHoddy
"Finally someone who understands the bush! The end of the neglect, I hope!" @SamBronkowitz
"That'll do. An accountant from the land. Back to business, Australia fights back." @ssmcarter
NSW MP Mr Cobb held the Opposition portfolio from 2008 - shadowing Ministers Tony Burke, Joe Ludwig and Joel Fitzgibbon - but was passed over despite Mr Abbott’s recent assurances that his front bench had performed well in opposition and he expected few changes in government.
In a press conference to announce his Cabinet this afternoon, Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott said most ministers would have "very simple titles".
“I am determined as far as humanly possible to have clear lines of authority and a back-to-basics government,” Mr Abbott said.
Mr Abbott was also asked about the government's view on foreign investment.
“Australia welcomes foreign investment, but it’s got to be the right foreign investment and in our national interest," he said.
"We can’t build walls against the world."
Liberal MP Andrew Robb has been appointed to an expanded Trade and Investment portfolio with a focus on boosting agricultural exports.
Mr Cobb is understood to have declined a position in the outer ministry serving under Mr Robb, where his agricultural experiences would have suited the role.
As expected, Nationals Leader Warren Truss has retained the infrastructure and Transport portfolio while Senator Scullion retained Indigenous Affairs.
NSW Senator Fiona Nash was appointed Assistant Minister for Health. During the election campaign, Mr Truss said the Nationals wanted to see a dedicated front-bencher for regional health to improve outcomes for regional residents.
Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch will chair Mr Abbott's Northern Development Committee.
Policy Development Committee chair Andrew Robb said the Coalition has been developing a comprehensive vision for Northern Australia over the past three years, culminating in the release last June of the 2030 Vision for Developing Northern Australia. Mr Joyce had been extensively involved with the formulation of this policy in recent years.
Despite holding the opposition portfolios of climate action, environment and heritage, Greg Hunt has been made Minister for the Environment.
Mr Abbott said the Cabinet would be sworn in on Wednesday morning.